– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Day journal Wednesday 3 April 2013

Checked emails before leaving home – 4 readers in today, 3 of them for the same collection, Harold Nicolson’s diaries, always the most popular one but not usually quite this popular!

9.15 I arrive by the side gate and forget to open the front ones… Lights on, main computer on and nave desk VPN as I’m invigilating again. It seems a waste to have both computers on but apparently the VPN requires it.

9.30 Reader hours start – remember about gates and discover reader 1 outside whoops. Post some reminder sticky notes around the place – this coming in the side entrance is a new thing.

9.50 Today’s schedule is: first 3 hours researching & answering enquiries, then an unallocated hour, and cataloguing this afternoon. Sounds doable. However, I want to begin with the unallocated hour, to finish the stack of filing from yesterday. Less procrastination this time please! Putting away is going to have to wait until Friday as there are multiple readers in tomorrow as well as today…

10.10 Reader 2 arrives. Produce volume he was reading last time.

10.30 Answer door: someone is picking up a package. Answer phone: discuss Unlocking Archives arrangements with future speaker. Work on time management blog post. Nice irony.

11.45 Reader 3 arrives. Reader 2 is reading the same years as reader 3 – gentlemanly compromise arrived at.

12.00 Filing attempt strategically postponed until Friday – no point stacking up any more until I can actually start putting some of it away. Finish and post time management blog post. An hour left: sorting enquiries it is. Wondering if I will ever see the bottom of my inbox again. Slow job as am replying to enquiries as I click past them.

1pm The Nicolson Diaries Reading Group, because that is what we are this morning, rises for an hour. Time to chuck out readers and lock up for lunch. Reader 1 is finished for the day.

1.40 I return to St Cross.

2pm Readers 2 and 3  return, reader 4 arrives. By some miracle Reader 4 is not looking at the Nicolson diaries.

This afternoon’s cataloguing consists of tackling 2 small but deep boxes of offprints of more or less relevance to Balliol’s medieval books; citations need adding to the online version of Mynors’ catalogue.

3pm going well thanks to Google Scholar vastly reducing the typing out of citations. Various interruptions for readers, one resulting in a book suggestion to the library.

4.30 1 box of ca. 50 MS citations done! Have needed the second jumper since lunchtime, finally getting up for it. Starting the second box.

5.00 Made it as far as MS 225 in the second box, another 10 or so citations. Google Scholar is great but unreliable – have to check details, and quite often the citation is half missing or just bizarre. Much extra chasing required. Kind of interesting though, and satisfying to finally put all the pieces together – a good number of the offprints don’t have all the necessary details either. Time to chuck out readers, but not to go home – medieval mystics reading group turning up in a few minutes.

Compare the day’s progress with the theoretical schedule: pretty nearly bang on actually! As for the ‘list for an unallocated hour’ from yesterday, I will carry it over. There were no such unallocated hours today.

List for an unallocated hour tomorrow:

  • Now URGENT: Devise poster for Unlocking Archives or at least send text round – list places to advertise
  • Passwords maintenance (beginning of a new quarter)
  • Learn tweetdeck
  • Make lists and organise twitter feed according to categories
  • Make some themed FFs for scheduling –  medieval music, art, history, image resources
  • Write up Cambridge visit 1 March & post on blog
  • Work on March monthly report for blog

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